| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

Hezbollah leader objects to UN peacekeeping force mandate renewal in Lebanon’s south

On Monday evening, the commander of Lebanon’s strong Shia armed organization Hezbollah cautioned against renewing the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country’s south on the current conditions.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon’s mandate, which expires Thursday, was extended last year with a minor change that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah condemned at the time as “a violation of Lebanese sovereignty.”

He did so again on Monday.

“A foreign armed force that moves on Lebanese territory without authorization of the government and Lebanese army, without coordination with the Lebanese army, where is the sovereignty in all that?” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

Under the modified mandate the peacekeeping force “is allowed to conduct its operations independently,” the UN resolution said.

The Security Council on Wednesday is to meet on extending UNIFIL’s mandate.

UNIFIL was first deployed more than four decades ago. It has routinely coordinated patrols and movements in its area of operations in the south with the Lebanese army.

But Lebanon’s government has also objected to the absence, in the UN resolution, of a stipulation that such coordination takes place.

On Monday, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib met in New York with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to convey Lebanon’s position, the country’s official ANI news service said.

UNIFIL was set up in 1978 to monitor the withdrawal of Israeli forces after they invaded Lebanon in reprisal for a Palestinian attack.

It was beefed up in 2006 after Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war, and the force, with more than 10,000 troops and naval personnel, is tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between the two sides.

Israel and Lebanon are officially still at war.

In December, an Irish soldier with UNIFIL was murdered and three comrades were injured as their convoy came under fire near the Israeli border in south Lebanon, a Hezbollah stronghold.

Days later, Hezbollah turned up a guy suspected of being the primary suspect to Lebanese police, a security official stated at the time. Hezbollah has denied any role in the death of Private Sean Rooney, 23, in Lebanon.

Many Western nations consider Hezbollah to be a “terrorist” organization, but it is also the only side that has not disarmed during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, and it is a prominent factor in Lebanese politics.

  • alarabiya